Fun must be always, even in the middle of a double-overtime penalty kill.
Tomas Hertl brought the fun when he scored the shorthanded game-winning goal on Marc-Andre Fleury to force Game 7 in San Jose. The goal made NHL history as the first shorthanded goal scored beyond the first overtime period. Tomas had also personally promised a seventh game, so it’s very good for his health that he delivered.
The Sharks made it to the second overtime through the efforts of Martin Jones, who made 58 saves to keep the Golden Knights to only one goal in 91 minutes.
It was the lowest-scoring game of the series, but not the most even. Vegas had an overwhelming lead not only in shots, but also in faceoff wins, and laid 80 hits on the Sharks. The Sharks were outplayed for parts of every period; their strongest play came in the first period and the first overtime. Even then, they never truly dominated.
Most of the first period was scoreless, until Logan Couture scored in the final 10 seconds to put the Sharks on the board. Vegas tied the game midway through the first period.
Neither team scored again for nearly 60 minutes of game action, though both teams came within inches of finishing the game long before Hertl’s five-hole shot.
The Sharks didn’t bring their best effort in this elimination game; they’re lucky to have the chance to eliminate the Knights on Tuesday.
18:51: Brayden McNabb clipped his skate into Evander Kane’s feet as Kane was facing away. No penalty though.
14:17: Vegas pushes into the Sharks’ zone for about a minute. Lots of shots coming from low angles at Martin Jones.
11:35: Joonas Donskoi hit the post, and that’s the most exciting thing that’s happened so far.
10:40: Tomas Hertl draws a tripping penalty from behind the net. Shea Theodore sits for up to two minutes.
8:40: Vegas kills the penalty. The Sharks had trouble getting into the zone on the first half of that power play. Gustav Nyquist had some pretty good looks but the timing was juuuust off.
0:6.5: Logan Couture receives a long flip pass from Brent Burns at the Vegas blue line and scores right through the five-hole! That’s a good way to end the period.
END FIRST: Sharks 1, Golden Knights 0
Most of that period didn’t feel like an elimination scenario playoff game. The Sharks played well, though, especially on the defensive side. They’re not over-committing to the Knights or leaving themselves open to transition offense.
The high flip pass has also been key, not just in setting up Couture’s goal. Erik Karlsson has used it really well to clear the defensive zone without an icing, giving the Sharks time to get fresh players on.
Aside from Couture, Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist have shown promise on the attack.
19:33: Timo Meier nearly scores on a big rebound from Logan Couture’s shot. That’s a good way to start the period; playing the rest of the period this way would be ideal.
8:40: Vegas got about five looks on net. Martin Jones made the first couple saves, but the defense didn’t clear it out and Jonathan Marchessault put it in over a sprawled Jones.
7:16: Vegas has picked up the pressure since that goal and generated a few more chances. This should surprise nobody.
5:34: The Sharks show their best offensive work since the first period. And promptly take a penalty.
1:10: Jonathan Marchessault fails to score on a 3-on-1 and decides to slash Logan Couture in the wrist. If the Sharks can a) score on the power play and b) not let that situation happen again I’ll be happy.
END SECOND: Sharks 1, Golden Knights 1
The middle of the second period is too early to go into a defensive shell, especially when you’re only up by 1 goal. The Sharks realized that when the Golden Knights got on the board. I’m honestly surprised it took that long for the Knights to tie it.
Ok so I know just last intermission I said the Sharks have been using the flip pass well; I’m gonna walk that back a little bit. They’ve started to over-think it and use it as a primary option even if there’s a simpler play available.
19:45: Who’s on the power play? The Sharks? Someone remind them please.
18:43: Martin Jones keeps the puck out of the net despite pressure from the Knights after they kill the Sharks’ power play.
16:29: This has not been a good start.
14:04: Melker Karlsson fell into Marc-Andre Fleury about 30 seconds ago. The Sharks finally touch the puck for the penalty kill to start.
12:05: The Sharks kill the penalty, but Vegas didn’t make it easy. They showed excellent movement both east-west and north-south and the passes were pretty sharp. Plus Alex Tuch slipped right through the penalty killers just over a minute in. That was scary.
4:49: Icing the puck is maybe not ideal when you have five minutes to score a goal or go to sudden-death overtime in an elimination game. Vegas can’t score when they do that, but neither can the Sharks.
3:46: Dillon makes a great desperate defensive play against Tomas Nosek and I’d rather that not happen ever again thanks.
END REGULATION: Sharks 1, Golden Knights 1
The Sharks had only four shots on goal in the entire third period. They haven’t had more than nine shots on goal in a single period so far this game. Vegas had 17 shots in both the second and third periods. The Sharks have to turn that around.
17:57: Loved Kevin Labanc’s cut to the middle of the slot. He made Marc-Andre Fleury come to the top of his crease.
14:19: The Sharks had the first two big chances, but it’s been all Vegas since then.
9:57: We’re halfway through what could be an eternity. The Sharks have picked it up a bit since I last checked in, but with that has come a lot of Vegas counter-rushes. I’m stressed.
6:24: Every time the puck goes to the boards I find myself tensing up. Even in the Vegas zone. The Knights are claiming the majority of pucks that come off the boards.
1:33: Now that we get a stop in play, we can try to process that wild sequence by the Timo Meier-Joe Pavelski-Logan Couture unit. There was just madness in front of the goal. There’s a brief video review but there’s no conclusive evidence that the puck crossed the goal line and we’re going to remain in a state of stress.
END FIRST OVERTIME: Sharks 1, Golden Knights 1
Justin Braun made a terrifying mistake in the last minute of play but Logan Couture was there with support.
Also in that overtime: Joonas Donskoi received a huge hit in the defensive zone, and Alex Tuch had a chance on an open net denied.
Too many neutral zone giveaways by the Sharks for them to win if they keep it up.
20:00: Looks like Donskoi got vaulted to play with Evander Kane and Tomas Hertl for the first shift.
11:25: I’ve been too stressed to keep track of things like time but that’s the Sharks’ first shot in...a while.
9:14: The Sharks get into the offensive zone and stay there for a bit, which they hadn’t done much after regulation. Then Barclay Goodrow takes a slashing penalty.
8:43: Tomas Hertl!!!!!!!!! Enough said.
FINAL: Sharks 2, Golden Knights 1
Vegas is up 3-2 and has the chance to clinch a playoff series at home for the first time in team history. The Knights are 4-1 at home against the Sharks over the past two postseasons.
If the Sharks spoil that, Game 7 will be played at SAP Arena, where the Sharks won games 1 and 5.
Martin Jones is starting again tonight, in an arena where he has been run from the cage four times in eight games.
The Sharks’ special teams have looked bad so far this postseason, with a sub-20 percent power play and a penalty kill success rate of less than 70 percent; the Golden Knights have also scored two goals while shorthanded.
Logan Couture showed up as hoped in Game 5, losing his teeth and scoring one of the Sharks’ five goals. Will he be the savior of the Sharks again?
Expected Scratches: Michael Haley (lower-body injury), Tim Heed, Lukas Radil
Golden Knights (via nhl.com):
Max Pacioretty — Paul Stastny — Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Reilly Smith
Tomas Nosek — Cody Eakin — Alex Tuch
William Carrier — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Ryan Reaves
Nate Schmidt — Deryk Engelland
Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore
Jon Merrill — Colin Miller
Expected Scratches: Erik Haula (lower body injury), Nikita Gusev, Ryan Carpenter, Nick Holden, Jimmy Schuldt, Brandon Pirri, Valentin Zykov
Where to watch
Puck drop is at 4 p.m. Pacific/7 p.m. Eastern at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and will be broadcast nationally in the U.S. on NBC Sports (which means it will not be available to stream on NHL.tv in the U.S.), SportsNet 360 in Canada, NBCSCA in San Jose and AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain in Vegas. The radio call will be on 98.5 KFOX in San Jose and through the Sharks app.